Reducing poverty by Education

Picture of siblings living in extreme poverty ...
Picture of siblings living in extreme poverty in El Salvador. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To eliminate extreme poverty there is no magic bullet. The causes of poverty are many, varied and interdependent. Education is a key to lifting people out of the cycle of extreme poverty and preventing one poor generation producing another poor generation.

Of course, education alone is not enough. Childhood diseases prevent children attending school and undernourishment of infants can cause brain damage which prevents them achieving their full potential.

My experience, in visiting people in Asia and Africa, is that people instinctively know that education is important for their children. In the more developed countries we have a lot to learn, and re-learn, about the importance of education. People living in poverty are very aware that sending their children to school will give them opportunities that they never had.

Economic realities

Many families living in extreme poverty, cannot afford to send any, or all, of their children to school. In many countries, even primary education has to be paid for. Secondary education is only free in developed countries and in a few less developed countries.

But it’s not just a question of school fees. Parents often have to pay for school uniforms, shoes, exercise books and textbooks. With class sizes of 50 or 60, individual attention is not possible. Better off families pay for “extra tuition” which is vital to any sort of academic success. Poorer families cannot cope with these financial restraints and so the education of their children suffers.

Economic realities may also mean that children need to be taken out of school to earn money where the survival family is at stake.

Investment in our children’s future

We, and I mean we in a global sense, need to invest in our children’s future. This, is as true in developed countries as it is in developing countries. Nations need to invest in their children. But also, the whole of humanity needs to invest in the future of humanity. We need to see, beyond our country’s borders, to a world where the hopes and dreams of so many people are held captive by poverty and therefore by lack of education.

I am presenting a challenge. If you live in a less developed country:

  • Can you influence your government’s priorities to ensure that education is high up on the agenda?
  • Are your schools only for the better off in society, or are they friendly towards poorer families?
  • Do your schools encourage pupils regardless of their economic status?
  • Do your schools put more emphasis on wearing a school uniform to the detriment of equal access to all?

If you live in a more developed country:

  • Do all your schools give equal access and priorities regardless of economic status?
  • Can you influence the way your government gives aid to other countries to ensure that education is a priority?
  • If you had the opportunity to help a single child, somewhere else in the world, achieve their full potential, would you be willing to help?

Sponsorship through education

Child sponsorship takes many forms. Karuna Action‘s child sponsorship scheme puts the main emphasis on education. Our main aim is to provide one-to-one link between an individual or family in one place to a needy child in a family in another part of world.

Karuna Action LogoIt is up to you to choose what level of relationship is important to you. Some people are quite happy to know that they are helping a child somewhere achieve their potential without wishing for any personal contact with the child or family. Other people take great delight in forming a relationship with a particular child and follow that child’s progress with great interest and prayers.

The situation varies from country to country but the single constant of the scheme is to ensure the education of the child. In some cases there were no school fees to pay but our support removes all obstacles which might prevent the child receiving a good education.

Karuna Action University Student
University Student sponsored by Karuna Action

We currently support about 500 children in Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, India, Mongolia, Albania and Peru.

Help doesn’t stop at primary and secondary school but may continue through vocational training or university. Young people who would have dropped out of the education system long ago are now studying at university. How can we measure the impact this has on the lives and the development of their country?

100 children need sponsors

We currently have a list of about 100 children who need your support in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We have plans for a new school there. Better off families can afford to pay school fees, but we want to be sure that the school caters for all children. Sponsorship will cover the needs of these poorer children and ensure that the school gets equal opportunities to children of mixed economic circumstances.

We are asking for £21 a month to sponsor one of these children. This is just less than £5 per week or £.70 a day. But it is about far more than money. The child you sponsor may one day be a doctor or lawyer rather than a casual labourer. You are investing in the child’s life and investing in the future of that child’s country.

How to sponsor a child:

  • You can e-mail us for further information about child sponsorship at or telephone on 01252 333233.

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

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